Why do I need hyperbaric oxygen?

There are factors in your clinical condition that indicate a course of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO) may be beneficial in helping to resolve the problems that are currently preventing your body from healing.

What does oxygen have to do with healing?

Oxygen is quite literally the fuel of life, without it all life as we know it would cease to exist. Normal physiological function and healing are oxygen dependent and rate limited by its availability at tissue level. Tissues damaged by disease or injury require increased amounts of oxygen to provide the additional energy necessary to fight infection and sustain the healing processes.

Why do I need hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

In some patients, the physical conditions caused by their illness prevent the demand for oxygen from being satisfied, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a means by which these can be overcome.

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a non-invasive therapy in which patients are placed in a specially designed chamber and breathe 100% oxygen at pressures up to three time's normal atmospheric pressure.

The FDA considers oxygen delivered for therapeutic purposes to be a drug. Thus, we can view the hyperbaric chamber in which you will receive treatment as the "syringe" needed to "inject" the oxygen in the "doses" necessary to achieve a beneficial effect.

What will it feel like?

For a few minutes, as the chamber pressure slowly builds up, you may feel a sensation in your ears as though they are filling up. This is normal and due to the air (gas) pressures on each side of your eardrum not being equal, which they are usually. Once you are at your treatment pressure there is no sensation of pressure because it is evenly distributed throughout your body.

Before you have your first treatment we will teach you a number of simple equalization techniques that will enable you to avoid ear discomfort. Your chamber operator will remind you of these at the start of each treatment and work with you to ensure you do not have problems.

As the pressure is reduced at the end of a treatment you may hear a "crackling" noise in your ears, this is also normal and should cause no discomfort.

What are the side effects?

There are very few conditions that will complicate treatment. Your hyperbaric physician is aware of these and will take them into consideration when accepting you into the program. As long as you make the doctor aware of any pre-existing medical conditions or medications you are taking, you should not experience any side effects once the therapy has been prescribed.

It is important that you always advise clinic personnel of any changes to your general health that have occurred since your last treatment. Problems that develop during the course of your program such as influenza, fever, sinusitis, ear infections or colds, could temporarily exclude you from treatment or require special attention.

Occasionally patients develop visual changes, generally an improvement; these are temporary and should return to normal within 8 weeks of the completion of treatment. Do not change your prescription if you wear glasses or contacts.

How many treatments will I need?

This will depend upon the nature of your problem and your progress. In emergency cases, such as Gas Gangrene or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, the number of treatments will typically range between 1 and 10 treatments over the course of 7 days.

For long-standing chronic infections and wound healing problems, the number of treatments can range from 20 - 60 over the course of several weeks. Outpatients are generally treated once a day for 5 days a week.

Your hyperbaric physician will provide the treatment protocol and schedule deemed necessary to successfully resolve your problem and keep you and your primary care physician informed.

Copyright Life Support Technologies, 2012